SECAUCUS, N.J. — The Phoenix Suns remained at No. 14 in the draft after Tuesday's NBA lottery, while the Los Angeles Clippers moved up and own the No. 1 pick in next month's draft.
Those longtime losers from Los Angeles were big winners Tuesday night.
The Clippers came across the country for what's practically an annual spring vacation and are going home with a nice souvenir: the No. 1 pick in next month's draft.
The Clippers won the draft lottery, moving up from the third-best chance to earn the top pick for the third time, earning the right to draft All-America forward Blake Griffin of Oklahoma, the national college player of the year.
Memphis vaulted to second and Oklahoma City will pick third.
Sacramento, which had the best chance to win the lottery after finishing with a league-worst 17-65 record, fell to fourth, and Washington dropped from second to No. 5.
The Clippers last had the No. 1 pick in 1998 and, perhaps predictably, blew it, taking eventual bust Michael Olowokandi.
They stand a better chance of getting it right this time if they go with Griffin, who led the nation with 30 double-doubles and 14.4 rebounds per game, while also averaging a Big 12-best 22.7 points as a sophomore.
Clippers president Andy Roeser, who represented the team on the podium, wouldn't confirm that they will choose Griffin, though they could certainly use a power forward after their former star Elton Brand left before last season as a free agent.
"I think five years from now Blake Griffin will be hitting his stride in the NBA and he will be an impact player wherever he is," said Roeser, whose sports jacket was lined with a Clippers uniform with a No. 1 on the left side and a 23, Griffin's number, on the other.
"He is an athletic player. He can do all sorts of things and has a ton of talent, and I think any team will be happy to have him."
Though the Kings desperately need help, former All-Star Chris Webber, who represented them on the podium, said he loved the system.
"The worst team shouldn't always get the best player," he said. "You can do a lot of losing for that. I really like the system, it is fair.
"I think our system is very fair. It's unfortunate I didn't get what I wanted to get and the Sacramento fans didn't get what they wanted and the Oklahoma City fans didn't get what they wanted, but I think the system is fair."
Webber, who was also a power forward, seemed to agree Griffin is the way to go.
"I love Griffin's game. I think there is a lot of upside to his potential," Webber said. "He is a hardworking player. I love the guy. (Kevin Garnett) is one of my favorites and I think he is from that cloth. He had a lot of pressure on him, but I like the kid and hopefully, he has a fun career."
The top three teams all moved up, making the 25th lottery as unpredictable as most of its predecessors. Not since 2004, when Orlando took Dwight Howard, had the team with the best chance to win ended up with the No. 1 pick.
The draft is June 25.
Minnesota has the sixth pick followed by Golden State, New York, Toronto, Milwaukee, New Jersey, Charlotte, Indiana and Phoenix.
The Clippers also picked first in 1988, drafting Danny Manning.
This was their 20th appearance in the draft lottery, which is supposed to help bad teams get better quickly. They can only hope that will finally be the case this time.
"Our goal is to be playing next year at this time," Roeser said.
The lottery had much bigger buzz in the past two years because there were two players who seemed worthy of going No. 1. Portland went for Greg Oden over Kevin Durant in 2007, and the Chicago Bulls moved up to get Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose last season, with Michael Beasley going second to Miami.
That wasn't the case this year, since Griffin seems like the only possible choice at No. 1. Spanish guard Ricky Rubio and Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet are also considered top-three choices, but come with question marks: Rubio is still a teenager and Thabeet isn't polished offensively.
The lottery determines the top three picks, with the rest of the first round going by inverse order of a team's record. It began in 1985, when the New York Knicks selected Patrick Ewing.
Phoenix had a only a 0.5 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick, a 0.6 percent chance at being No. 2, a 0.7 chance of getting the third selection and a 98.2 percent chance of staying at No. 14.
Suns stay at No. 14
The Suns stayed right where they started in Tuesday's NBA draft lottery: No. 14. Here are some memorable No. 14 draft picks from yester-year:
1996 - Peja Stojakovic (Sacramento): The 6-foot-10 gunner might be Serbia's most successful player. He's fourth in NBA history in both free-throw percentage at 89.6 percent and in 3-pointers made with 1,571. One pick later at No. 15, the Suns took some unknown guard from Santa Clara named Nash.
1994 - Yinka Dare (New Jersey): The 7-foot-1 former tennis player from Nigeria starred at George Washington but suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament three minutes into his rookie season. He's best known for racking up four assists in his four-year career. He died of a heart attack in his home in 2004 at age 32.
1992 - Malik Sealy (Indiana): Named in honor of Malcolm X, for whom Sealy's father was a bodyguard, Sealy was an excellent defender and mid-range shooter and did a couple of acting roles during his eight years in the NBA. While playing for Minnesota in 2000, Sealy was killed by a drunk driver at age 30 on his way home from Kevin Garnett's birthday party.
1989 - Tim Hardaway (Golden State): His killer crossover coming out of Texas-El Paso earned him the "UTEP two-step" nickname. Despite being 5-foot-9, the five-time All-Star reached 5,000 points and 2,500 assists faster than any NBA player except Oscar Robertson. He set an NBA playoff record for steals in a game (eight) and one for futility (0-for-17 shooting against Minnesota in 1991).
1988 - Dan Majerle (Phoenix): This draft pick and some guy named Kevin Johnson were sent from Cleveland to Phoenix in exchange for Larry Nance. Now a Suns assistant, Majerle made most of those Suns fans who booed his name on draft day wish they'd done otherwise.
1983 - Clyde Drexler (Portland): Hall of Famer and two-time Olympic gold medal winner averaged 20 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists and two steals per game during his 15-year career. He is one of three players in NBA history to have posted career totals of at least 20,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 6,000 assists (Oscar Robertson and John Havlicek).
1981 - Herb Williams (Indiana): Spent 18 years in the league with four different teams and is an assistant to former Suns coach Mike D'Antoni in New York, the fifth head coach he's worked with in The Big Apple.
1977 - Tree Rollins (Atlanta): The 7-footer was the only athlete in Clemson history to have his jersey retired by the school. He played 18 years in the NBA and is seventh on the all-time blocked shots list.
1975 - Joe Bryant (Golden State): Yes, "Jellybean" Bryant is Kobe's father. The current coach of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks was drafted and immediately dealt to his hometown team Philadelphia. He played in the NBA for six seasons.